The name may scare you at first, but please don’t run for the hills! If nutritional yeast is a foreign food to you, or if you’re new to the vegan lifestyle and unsure what it is or how to utilize it, let me fill you in. Nutritional yeast is a MUST–have in your food pantry. It may sound unappealing at first, but it’s extremely nutritious and delicious. I was hesitant about trying it in my early vegan days and waited far too long to incorporate it in my meals. I now regret that greatly because I was missing out BIG time. Don’t make my mistake!
So what is nutritional yeast, you ask?
Nutritional yeast is a microorganism that grows on sugar cane and beet molasses. Once it is harvested, it is deactivated through a high heat treatment and turned into nutritional yeast crumbles or flakes. It’s very popular in the vegan community due to it’s nutty and cheesy flavor. It can be used as an ingredient in mac & “cheese” dishes, a topper on popcorn, stirred in a soup, sprinkled over salad…the possibilities are endless!
The benefits of nutritional yeast include:
It’s vegan and a great source of vitamin B-12. Vegan = cruelty-free, so that’s a great benefit to start! The one vitamin vegans are told to supplement with is B-12, since most sources of B-12 are animal-based. Nutritional yeast on the other hand, is a completely vegan source. In fact, just one tablespoon a day can provide you with a full day’s recommendation dose of B-12.
It’s high in protein. Did you know B-12 is a complete protein, providing all non amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own? Typically, two tablespoons provides 60 calories with five grams of carbohydrates (of which four grams is fiber) and 9 grams of protein.
It’s high in fiber. Let’s face it… most people in today’s society consuming the “Standard American Diet” (SAD) are fiber deficient. Fiber is essential for overall gut health and digestion. Nutritional yeast provides four grams of fiber per only two tablespoons.
It’s gluten, soy and dairy-free. This appeals to many people with various allergies or diets making it the perfect universal super-food for everyone!
It’s a great source of folic acid. Folic acid is a necessary for cell development and is especially crucial for women trying to get pregnant or who are currently pregnant. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) – serious birth defects of the spinal cord (such as spina bifida) and the brain (such as anencephaly).
Now that you have a better understanding of what nutritional yeast is and its many health benefits it provides, I hope you give it a shot. Not only will you feel GOOD eating it but you will quickly become addicted to its amazing flavor!